Three fantastic weeks of football action finally come to an end Sunday, when the final match of the African Football League (AFL) goes down at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, three time African champions Wydad Athletic Club taking on home side Mamelodi Sundowns.
Wydad arrive in South Africa with a slim 2-1 advantage from the first leg and will be looking to avoid defeat away from home to clinch the first ever AFL title.
These two sides met here in the second leg of the semi-final of last season’s Champions League, and Wydad got the desired result, a late equalizer earning them a 2-2 draw to sail them into the final.
But the stakes are higher this time round, with a trophy and a 4mn USD cash prize at stake.
Playing at home, and promising to paint the stadium yellow, coach Rulani Mokwena is looking for nothing short of victory to clinch his first ever continental title as head coach.
“We tried to win away from home but I thought we were unlucky. The players gave everything in the first leg and we will try to write history in the second leg,” said the tactician.
“The last three seasons we have been knocked out of the Champions League by Al Ahly, Petro and Wydad. For the AFL, the stars are aligned, but you still have to make the stars align. We are playing at home, we are ready to make the best out of it,” the tactician said.
Sundowns needs to win the match by a margin of more than two goals, or at worse, 1-0 to win on the away goals rule. They will look to make their scoring end work, with Mokwena admitting they have focused a bit more on finishing to ensure they are sharp on the day.
For Wydad, they just need to avoid defeat to clinch the title. Coach Adil Ramzi says his side has prepared well and are keen to ensure they give a flawless performance for the end result, which is the title.
“This is a significant game and everyone wants to win it. We won in Casablanca but it’s still 50-50. We are facing a strong team but we are ready. For me this is the chance of a first major title as a coach and we share the same dreams with everyone, to win it. We will give our best to win,” added the tactician.
For the duel however, Wydad will miss a huge part of their squad, skipper Yahya Jebrane who is out after accumulating yellow cards. The midfielder has been a crucial part of the team throughout the tournament and his absence will definitely be felt for the side.
Coach Ramzi admits as much, but remains confident that those remaining can do an equally good job.
“His absence is impactful, but I trust the team as a whole. Such matches give players huge motivation and I know they will step up and give a good match for us to win the title,” he added.
The match will be played at 13h00 GMT.